Caroline Braden

2011-07-23T00:00:00Z Caroline Braden The Billings Gazette
July 23, 2011 12:00 am

WIBAUX — Caroline Braden, one of the Wibaux County High School Longhorn's greatest fans, left this world on July 19, 2011, at the Wibaux County Nursing Home to live on her small farm in the heavens.

Visitation will be from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 24, 2011, at the Silvernale-Silha Funeral Home in Wibaux. Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. on Monday, July 25, 2011, in the Wibaux County High School gymnasium in Wibaux with Reverend J.T. Burk officiating. Interment will be at Wibaux Cemetery. Silvernale-Silha Funeral Home of Wibaux has been entrusted with arrangements.

Caroline May Bair Braden, with her twin Conrad Bair, was born amid the tumultuous flood in Wibaux County on June 8, 1929. Her mother, May N. Frisinger Bair, was carried over the flooding waters of Beaver Creek on a plank in order to birth her twelfth and thirteenth children safely.

Caroline's early years were spent on the family farm in south Wibaux County near what is now known as The Peters/Banister Ranch. She loved the farm life and always dreamed of having a farm of her own. As a small child, she sat on the large petrified rock watching the activities around the farm. She learned to ride horses at an early age and loved to tell the story of racing across the darkening prairie with a bucket full of eggs, never breaking a one, but losing a shoe.

As farms began to fail and "the dirty ‘30s" hit, Caroline moved with her parents into a small house in Wibaux. She attended schools in Wibaux, graduating with the class of 1947 from Wibaux County High School. She watched her brothers Art and Harold excel in sports, so she became a member of the WCHS girls' basketball team in her high school years. She loved the sport. She regaled her children with her defensive exploits on a girls' half-court team. She worked as a waitress at Sutherland's Café during this time, learning the restaurant business at an early age. She also told of "hopping trains to Beach" to see the soldiers off to, and home from, WWII.

The war was not kind to the Bair family, Caroline lost her brothers, Art, Lewis, and Roger in the war. She had the sad duty of claiming her brother Roger's body from the train as her mother, newly widowed, could not face that final death. Having lost her twin Conrad to pneumonia at 18 months, Caroline was the youngest in the family: she said that maybe the youngest are spoiled, but they have to cope with the most grief.

On June 18, 1947, Caroline married Bernard R. Braden in Glendive. They made their home in Wibaux, living first with her mother, then in an apartment above what is now The Rainbow. Other young families lived there and Caroline began a lifetime of friendships in those apartments.

In 1951, near the birth of their fourth child, Caroline and Bernard moved into their new basement, the beginning of their family home. Following the births of seven more children, the family "moved upstairs." Bernard, Caroline and the children all helped build that dream as well as their brothers, in-laws, and friends. In November of 1964, the family settled in their completed home. Caroline's twelfth child was the only baby to come home from the hospital to the completed house.

As Caroline's children grew, she started to work outside the home. She went to work as a cook at The Palace Café. In this job she became a star baker of doughnuts, maple sticks, and caramel rolls and a terrific all-around cook. She was often heard to praise her boss Delsi Grigsby for teaching her how to be a good restaurant cook. As more of Caroline's children grew and became independent, she started working at the Skelly/Flying J Truck Stop in Beach. She frequently commented on the friendly people she met working in Beach. She later worked at Grandma's Kitchen in Beach before her retirement in 1990.

All during this time, Caroline was an avid follower of the Wibaux Longhorns. She and Bernard had an agreement: he took his big fall hunting trip, and Mom went to all the basketball games and tournaments she could. Along with her friend Margaret and sister Mary, she became known as one of the most vocal hecklers of referees. As time went on, Caroline found a way to avoid giving refs a hard time. She began keeping a score book. She and her Mark IV score book appeared at all the Longhorn basketball games. She even had to help the official scorekeeper a time or two, which gave her a great thrill. She followed all her children in their athletic careers and even her grandchildren. Later, she also would "adopt" certain Longhorn favorites after her children were no longer playing. She followed these young people throughout their high school careers applauding their successes and challenges. As the years went on and she could no longer make it to tournaments herself, Heidi and Hutch made sure she made it to Miles City to watch the Longhorns play. The family is forever grateful to this wonderful couple for helping their mother so much.

As well as attending Longhorn football and basketball games, Caroline enjoyed playing gin and bingo. She was a staunch supporter of all her children's pursuits and really enjoyed bragging about her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She loved to dance and watch good dancing. Her final day was spent listening to the Glen Miller orchestra and dancing in her dreams.

As she is starting live on her dream farm, she is joining her parents Irvin L. and May N. Bair and all twelve of her siblings: Dolores Quale, Lewis, Jack, Roger, Ruth Nagode, Mary Robinson, Bernice Pitzebarger Ward, Art, Clifford (Cub), Bob and Harold, and Conrad, her daughter Shelly and her grandson Robb Dundas and her husband Bernard.

Caroline is survived by her children Shirley (Doug) Dundas of Billings, Susan Braden of Kalispell, William (Cindy) of Denver, Colo., Barbara (Paul) Ammon of Andersonville, Calif., Brenda (Mike) Houston of Great Falls, Bernette Braden, of Sidney, Buckley of Littleton, Colo.; Sharon Braden of Denver; Bradley (Vicki) of Wibaux, Steven (Janelle) of Katy, Texas, and Scott of Miles City; her grandchildren Todd (Loucinda) Dundas, Kate (Bill) Halpin, Tyler (Olivia) Braden, Chad Houston, Crystal (Craig) Erickson, Skyler Braden, Robb Braden, Samuel Braden, Jalen, Marrisa, and Kaden Braden, and Gage and Hunter Braden; her great-grandchildren, McKenzi and McKayla Dundas, Logan and Hadley Huston, and Ace Erickson. Her numerous nieces and nephews also mourn her passing.

Remembrances and condolences can be shared with the family at:

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